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06.07 When Tantric, Fuel, and Bettencourts Combine…

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It’s STATE OF THE ART

By Len Sousa

In a family of ten siblings with twenty-two children, one might expect a variety of talents and interests. However, for the Bettencourt clan, which has strong roots in both Worcester and Hudson, things are a bit narrower.

“Music comes naturally in our family,” says Chris Bettencourt, one of the twenty-two and nephew of Nuno Bettencourt, guitarist for the rock band Extreme, whose hit “More Than Words” transcended hard and soft rock boundaries and continues to receive airplay on stations across the country.

Chris, who admits to being the only one in his enormous extended family not to play an instrument (although he occasionally provides back-up vocals on relatives’ albums ~ as he has for Uncle Nuno and sister-in-law Lucia Moniz), grew up in the Main South area of Worcester along with his brother Donovan (known as Donny). Last August, when friend and Tantric lead singer Hugo Ferreira (who’s been known to make surprise appearances at the Compound in Fitchburg) approached him about managing his new band project, Chris knew he could put his band management experience to good use. Brother Donny was recruited on bass, former Fuel member Kevin Miller joined on drums, and Northboro native Joe Pessia was asked to play guitar. An unconventional addition, violinist Marcus Ratzenboeck was asked to flare up a few tracks, giving the songs an effervescent touch. Nuno Bettencourt (now part of Dramagods) lent his guitar talents on a few tracks and his brother Paulo Bettencourt (of 80s band Flesh) kicked in some background vocals, too.

Finally, singer Hugo came up with a moniker to tie them all together: State Of The Art. “He thought it fit with the new music he was making,” Chris says. New music that sounds a lot like what one might anticipate from a Tantric/Fuel combo ~ namely, winning vocals and instrumentation and just a splash of early Aerosmith swagger.

“State Of The Art just happened,” Chris explains. “It wasn’t really put together for the purpose of being a supergroup of some sort…It’s really about a bunch of friends putting together music that rocks. There are similarities to these other groups but there are really no comparisons.”

Chris Bettencourt is clearly able to promote his brother’s band on the national and international levels, but there will always be a place in his heart for his hometown. “I think there is a lot of great music coming out of the [Worcester] area as there always has been for years. There are a lot of artists that have become very successful and have gone on to sign major label deals…There are some great venues in the area as well.”

So now that most of the Bettencourts have grown up and gone their separate ways, just when will the clan get together for one big family reunion show? “[It’s] already happened twice,” Chris reveals. “It’s starting to become an annual thing that happens at The Portuguese Club in Hudson during the holidays.” In fact, the gathering has even earned its own title, “Bettenfest.”

“You’d rarely find any Portuguese family that isn’t proud of their culture,” Chris says. “I think with most Western European cultures everything is primarily family-oriented. With family comes togetherness. Since we have such a large Portuguese family, we are influenced by what each other plays and listens to. [And] since there is almost a twenty-year age range between the oldest and youngest Bettencourt, there is a lot of music to cover there.” So despite their numbers, the Bettencourts seem close, proud of their Portuguese heritage which traces back to the island of Terceira in the Azores.

As for traditional family reunions, Chris explains them with one word: Madness. “So many people. So many cars. The neighbors must hate us.” With their first album in the works and a tour in their sites, we’re guessing that “So many people, so many cars” will be the case at State of the Art shows across the country soon, too.

Visit www.myspace.com/sotalive to reserve a copy of the CD, meets some of the guys, and get updates about all things State of the Art.

pics:
Top: Hugo Ferreira, Candi Bramante of Daddy’s, and Chris Bettencourt;
Middle: Cover Art
Bottom: Hugo Ferreira

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